Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Oct 27

The Grey Nomads

Bang! Splut! Splut! Ssplllut!

The car engine died.  A cloud of black smoke plumed through the air.

Dry and dusty was this desert road.  Dust and sand everywhere.  It was in their hair, their eyes, their nostrils.  The blazing heat beamed down relentlessly.

How could this have happened?  He couldn’t understand it.  He had his four-wheel drive Land Cruiser, his pride and joy, serviced only seven days prior to this long journey around Australia.  It was to be the trip of a life-time now that he had retired.  He called it, “The Expedition of the Grey Nomads”.

The little food and water that they had was quickly running out.  They had been stuck here now for four days, with not a sign of person or vehicle in sight.  It was either stay with the vehicle or put hats on and start walking.  But in which direction?  They had travelled at least forty kilometres since they passed the last farm-house.

While laying in the shade under the car, they thought they heard the whir of an engine.  Quickly getting to their feet they could see the glimmer of a small aircraft in the distance.

Reefing the rear vision mirror from the windscreen of the car, he flashed it around, backwards and forwards, up and down, hoping to attract the pilot of the plane with the reflection of the sun’s rays.

As the plane approached, it swooped down low over the Land Cruiser, before climbing skyward and heading back again in the direction they had come.

Three anxious hours passed by.  Then suddenly, in the distance on the horizon, a cloud of dust appeared.  Their spirits were again lifted.  They were excited and their hearts filled with joy and thankfulness.

As the truck approached, it pulled up beside them.  A voice called out, “Need any help?” They were both totally astonished and surprised to see that their rescuer was their son.

“You were supposed to phone me two days ago when you reached the township of Marble Bar.  What kept you?”

They were certainly glad they had told someone of their itinerary and destination.  When they reach the next town, their first and most important purchase will be a satellite phone.

No more taking chances.  Another day or two and it may have been a different outcome!


Hilda Oakley

Copyright © 10.09.2012

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